Understanding Drawer Slide Terminology

Understanding Drawer Slide Terminology

Drawer slides are a lot like cabinet hinges in that there's a lot of terminology in the woodworking world about them. We've tried to provide some basic understanding of the terminology surrounding drawer slides below.

Ball Bearing Slides
Ball Bearing drawer slides operate much more smoothly than Epoxy slides and are used in higher quality furniture. As their name indicates, they utilize ball bearings to create that smoother movement..
 
Cabinet Member
A drawer slide cabinet member is the portion of the drawer slide that attaches directly to the cabinet. Drawer slides come apart in two pieces (sometimes 3). Each piece is called a "member". The members are attached to the drawer and to the cabinet and, when they are put together, make up the complete drawer slide. The cabinet member is also called the Outer member.
 
Drawer Member
A drawer slide drawer member is the portion of the drawer slide that attaches directly to the drawer. Drawer slides come apart in two pieces (sometimes 3). Each piece is called a "member". The members are attached to the drawer and to the cabinet and, when they are put together, make up the complete drawer slide. The drawer member is also called the Inner member.
 
Dynamic Load Rating
Dynamic load rating is a measurement of how much weight a pair of slides will support while the drawer opens and closes several thousand times.
 
Epoxy Slides
Epoxy drawer slides are low cost slides that use a plastic wheel and a formed channel to facilitate drawer movement. As the name suggests, they are epoxy-coated and come in several different colors such as white, almond, and cream. The majority of epoxy slides are 3/4 length extension slides and are used on value furniture. Epoxy slides are sold in four pieces: right and left cabinet member and right and left drawer member. They are the most forgiving slides if mounted incorrectly or slightly off.
 
Face Frame mounting holes
Face frame mounting holes are the holes at the front of the slide that installers use to mount the cabinet member to the cabinet face frame.
 
Fastening
Proper drawer slide fastening is required to achieve the optimum performance from the slide. Use recommended fasteners in sufficient quantities to secure the cabinet and drawer member mounting. Use wood or system screws for wood applications. Bolts, threaded studs or rivets are acceptable methods of attachment to metal cabinets and drawers, providing rivet heads do not impede slide movement.
 
Friction Disconnect
Friction Disconnect is achieved by pulling the drawer through the resistance of the bearings. You simply pull the drawer right off the slide.
 
Full Extension
A full extension drawer slide allows the drawer to open the full length of the slide.
 
Inner Member
A drawer slide inner member is the portion of the drawer slide that attaches directly to the drawer. Drawer slides come apart in two pieces (sometimes 3). Each piece is called a "member". The members are attached to the drawer and to the cabinet and, when they are put together, make up the complete drawer slide. The inner member is also called the Drawer member.
 
Intermediate Member
A drawer slide intermediate member is a portion of a more complex drawer slide that doesn't get attached directly to either the cabinet or drawer but moves when the drawer is opened. Complex drawer slides can come apart in three pieces. Each piece is called a "member". The inner and outer members are attached to the drawer and to the cabinet and, when they are put together with the intermediate member, they make up the complete drawer slide.
 
Lever Disconnect
Lever disconnect means drawer removal is achieved by releasing a lever and pulling the drawer away from the cabinet. Some levers are "handed" which means you pull up on one side and down on the opposite side of the drawer.
 
Outer Member
A drawer slide outer member is the portion of the drawer slide that attaches directly to the cabinet. Drawer slides come apart in two pieces (sometimes 3). Each piece is called a "member". The members are attached to the drawer and to the cabinet and, when they are put together, make up the complete drawer slide. The outer member is also called the cabinet member.
 
Over Travel
Over travel drawer slides allow the drawer to open beyond full extension, providing complete access to the drawer and its contents.
 
Progressive movement
A progressive movement slide means that all slide members move simultaneously, resulting in very smooth and quiet function often used for file drawers.
 
Rail/Bracket Disconnect
Rail/Bracket disconnect is when the drawer is raised off the slide by using a rail latch. This disconnect function permits a quick and easy drawer removal.
 
Self close
A Self-Close drawer slide has a spring built into it enabling the drawer to finish closing automatically after partially closing the drawer.
 
Side Clearance
Side clearance is the amount of space between the drawer box and the case that the slide needs to fit in. The most common clearance is 1/2".
 
Slide Length
To measure a slide for a side-mount or center-mount installation, measure the distance from the front edge of the cabinet to the inside face of the cabinet back and then subtract 1".

For under-mount slides, measure the drawer length. The slides must be the same length as the drawer to work properly.
 
Soft close
Soft-Close drawer slides add a dampening effect to the self-close feature, returning the drawer into the cabinet softly, without slamming.
 
Static load rating
Static load rating is a measurement of how much weight a pair of slides will support in a drawer standing still.
 
Telescoping Movement
Telescoping Movement happens in stages. Each slide member extends fully and then picks up the next member pulling it to the end of the extension cycle.
 
Touch Release / Touch-to-Open
A Touch Release / Touch-to-open drawer slide has a built in spring release that allows you to gently press the front of a drawer and it will pop open a couple of inches without pulling a drawer handle.
 

 

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